HomeRoast Digest


Topic: A very different homeroasting in Brazil (15 msgs / 1098 lines)
1) From: Pieter Sijbrandij
A very different homeroasting in Brazil
Thanks for all the good suggestions and comments on getting a home-roaster
in Miami. I promised to tell you a bit more on Brazil and home-roasting in
Brazil. So here we go (being Dutch it will be in my crappy English). Please
note I do not consider myself as experienced as most of you (though I deal
sometimes professionally with strengthening small scale farmers
organizations in Brazil amongst which 300.000 coffee producers
responsiblefor  around 25% of the Brazilian coffee).
Homeroasting as you are talking about in this list is far away from
Brazilian reality. Brazilians do love coffee and are pretty proud of their
role in the coffee world. At every workplace and waiting room there is a
(thermo-isolated) can with coffee and small plastic cups free of charge. You
risk loosing a lot of goodwill by taking it away. The coffee is much
stronger, very black, and most of the time awfully sweet. So that’s an
important reference for all coffee drinkers. =
Over the last years things have improved though. The coffee sweeteners made
drinking just black coffee possible and the trend of coffee-shops with
sometimes very decent espresso is fast growing (At Starbucks in São Paulo
you can get Bourbon from Brazil, exported green to the US, roasted in
Seattle and reimported!). But this trend seems to me having more to do with
‘a nice moment’ than with drinking a cup of good coffee. There seem to =
be
very few homeroasters who see it as fun and are really interested in coffee.
In fact I know of just one in my city of 500K souls. Websites on coffee are
very much focused on baristas.  I haven´t found any on roasting (yet).
However, there are many thousands of homeroasters in Brazil and you can find
them in the coffee producing areas. It is the very people who grow the
coffee who still have the habit of roasting and grinding for themselves
(mostly done by the women). Sadly, it seems to me, it is becoming less. More
and more they outsource the work. Roasting for home consumption sometimes
can be done at the local bakery which uses an industrial type of roaster or
by (mostly poor) people who use homeroast in the traditional way to get some
extra income. The bakery is also good for grinding, as handgrinding (like I
do) is not seen as fun.  Still, there are many thousands of homeroasters
left. =
So at my last stay in coffee producing Minas Gerais, I decided to focus and
test the coffee they drink. I spent a week visiting families, seeing how
they grow, pick, process, roast, burn, brew and drink in a county which
produces over 400.000 bags a year. I can tell you, I had an amazing week,
learned a lot and drank too much coffee. Brazilians are wonderful people and
they were never tired of answering my endless questions. So I´m still a b=
it
upset that these lovely people, who spend so much time producing sometimes
really good beans, manage to drink such a poor cup. =
Yes, the best coffee is exported to you, as business goes first. But still,
too much quality is lost with roasting and brewing. (And, to be honest with
drying, sorting, and stocking the green coffee.) I will give you a few
examples.
Starting with the end. The brew. I visited a state of the art coffee farm. A
top supplier (ranked within the quality top 10) of a famous Italian brand,
with all the sophisticated equipment for selecting and sorting out all
possible defects. A marvelous Bourbon, professionally roasted on a sample
roaster especially for me and brewed correctly. It was undrinkable!! The
only problem here: tons of sugar! The second cup I brewed myself and put no
sugar in it. Really superb! These people know about coffee and are very well
respected, but, speaking the local language they think you like the local
taste.
A second example. Good “bebida mole” beans, that is “soft” beans (w=
ould´t
make gourmet because of the number of defects) with a Vienna to French
roast. So you put tapwater (chlorine!) in a can, put several spoons of sugar
in the cold water, boil the water and use a reusable cotton cloth-filter.
This is a very common way to brew. The filter is no problem, and a lot of
Brazilians see it as one of the best ways to brew (drip filter is the most
common nowadays, they call it here Melitta after the huge German coffee
corp). And I even see boiling the water as a good thing as it helps to
reduce the chlorine. (I do not have the courage to suggest using mineral
water in order not having to boil it). The roast is very dark and, again,
the amount of sugar is the killer.
Roasting. With all you guys talking about temperatures during the roasting
process, the first crack and the second crack, I really notice the distance.
While drinking beer at night, my coffee producing friends just laughed about
that and made still fun out of me days later (even those who produce over
10.000 bags a year and travel to the Minnesota fair to make fun and do
business). They decided I would be sent away the next day with one of their
“moms” to learn how it is done.
Mom told me she is the homeroaster for most of their family and does it for
over 50 years. This time the coffee was what they call “Bica Corrida”, =
i.e.
the coffee is not sorted, so it contains still a lot of the defects (green,
stinkers, shells etc). This Brazilian natural was actually good (a mix of
mundo novo, yellow and red catuaí, would it have been sorted. Another
problem was it had been stocked 50 meters from the pond for the livestock,
so it decreased in quality because of the high humidity. =
That day I learned that for a good roast you use the wood stove. Yes, my
kind instructor considered it as better than propane gas. The used roaster
was a one gallon (4 liters) ball with a lid, an iron axis, a handle and an
outer ring for support on the stove, available at the local shop for U$ 17.
We put some extra wood into the stove and 3 liters of green beans in the
roaster. The fun started, I promised myself to follow exactly all
instructions.
Turning around the ball with 45 cycles a minutes, after around 8 minutes the
chaff was starting to get dry, and some smoke started getting out of a
single tiny hole. After 24 minutes turning around the ball became much
lighter and at 26 minutes there were first signals of “white smoke”. (I=
 got
worried). At 27 minutes we decided to have a look. As expected the coffee
was still not “ready”, although some of it (according to my opinion) had
already past the first crack. (remember, one of the problems of Bica Corrida
is that you deal with all sizes and all defects at the same time, so it will
always be an uneven roast)
The roasting went on for another seven minutes during which I speeded up the
turning around. Two minutes after “the white smoke” getting strong, I w=
as
asked why a had a sad look on my face. I feared the worst as white smoke
seemed to me oil burning, but how to explain? We decided to stop the
roasting and I was told to put the beans on newspapers spread out on a big
plate made of palm leaves. So I did, but while trying to spread it out to
cool as fast as possible, I was told to make a small heap with the beans so
it could get “to the point”.  We ended up with a mix of Full City, Vien=
na,
French and Carbonized roast. =
The second try we roasted lighter, but still far to dark for me. The problem
are the defects which will carbonize will the 18-beans are still around the
first crack. Later my friend told me his mom felt she had failed, because at
the first try I should have rotated faster, but felt embarrassed to tell me
to do so. Anyway, the coffee that evening tasted delicious as for me this
was a great experience. Yes it was bad quality, but did you ever have bad
wine with people you really like? Joy is the unbeatable taste!
The last day of my stay I visited four brothers who are prize winning
producers. They gave me some 30 pounds of pulped-natural yellow catauí of
their best stock of the 07/08 season (end of June they will harvest again)
and told me to experiment with it at home. So that’s what I do now, being
back in the south of Brazil (no coffee over here). I roast at home with “=
the
ball” as long as I can’t get hold of the I-Roast Behmor, and am making =
logs
for figuring out the best way. I already manage to get a very acceptable
even roast. Reducing the amount of green beans, using a propane gas heater,
no sugar and a moka-pot for brewing makes it a lot of fun. It is definitely
good coffee, soft with surprisingly strong citric notes.  Neighbours and
friend are forced to accept gifts as the roasted volume is too big for me
and my tiny family.
 The endless efforts which have to be made by the thousands of small
producers to get to us that perfect bean really deserve our admiration. It
is up to us to make the most out of it. From my side I will continue to read
the list and learn from you (and be a bit jealous because of all the access
to different green coffees you have from all over the world).  =
If you are interested in more news on coffee in Brazil please tell. =
Warm regards
Pieter
 =
 =
 =
 =
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2) From: Brian Kamnetz
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3) From: Bob
Pieter,
That was fantastic! I look forward to more of your discussion on =
using the coffee ball roaster.
Thanks,
Bob ~ Parker CO USA

4) From: Dave
Thank you Pieter! That was a wonderful narrative.
-- 
Dave
Some days...
It's just not worth chewing through the leather straps
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5) From: John Despres
Wow, what a story. Pieter.
Thank you for sharing. I will be in Mexico city soon for two weeks and =
plan to make it around to a couple plantations. I doubt if I will have =
the time for the type of experiences you describe here as I hope to =
establish an exhibition there of my works - more business than pleasure, =
but we'll see what happens.
Thank you again for this marvelous story!
John
Pieter Sijbrandij wrote:
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-- =
John A C Despres
Hug your kids
616.437.9182
Scene It All Productions 
JD's Coffee Provoked Ramblings =
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6) From: Dave Kvindlog
Wow.  Thanks, Pieter!
-- 
Dave Kvindlog
iHomeroast
Cedar Rapids, Iowa
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7) From: Bill
Pieter,
Thanks for the report!  Definitely appreciate your writing.  I agree with
you, that the amazing coffee that I enjoy every day is the end result of a
lot of hands working very hard.  One unexpected result of my homeroasting is
that I'm much more conscious of the people who grew and processed my coffee,
whether they be from Ethiopia, Colombia, Yemen, Sumatra, wherever...
Thanks again
bill in wyo
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8) From: raymanowen
What an excellent report! I could really see the things you described.
All the work and love involved in getting green coffee beans delivered to us
consumers, and we take it for granted that the beans are at fault if
something is not exactly right about our cuppa.
Please keep reporting as you have time, Pieter!
Cheers, Mabuhay, iechyd da -RayO, aka Opa!
-- 
"When the theme hits the bass, I dance the Jig!" - -Virgil Fox at the Mighty
Wichita (ex- NYC Paramount) WurliTzer- 1976
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9) From: Les
Wow,
This gives me a a different perspective on the Brazil Cachoeria "Canario
Boubon" that I just got from SM yesterday.  We get their best and they are
left with the dregs.
Les
On 6/12/08, raymanowen  wrote:
<Snip>
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10) From: Coffee Willard
 "We get their best and they are
left with the dregs."
I would think that all farmers would sell their best crop and use the
poorest for them selves. They would want to sell the stuff that gets the
best price.
If I owned an apple orchard, I'd sell the perfect apples and eat those with
blemishes.
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11) From: Paul LaGorce
Hi Pieter,
I just now finished reading your very entertaining letter from Brazil.  Take
pride in your English writing; almost all of what you write is exactly like
the writing of an educated native English speaker.
I'm old, now, but I used to be a machine design engineer who designed
manufacturing systems.  I mention this because most now believe that we are
within 15 years of having computational power sufficient to support
sophisticated robotic vision.  This is important to you because it will
revolutionize coffee production and put at risk the livelihood of hundreds
of thousands of ordinary people.  Those with lots of capital to invest will
control the coffee growing business because 'robots' will produce better
coffee at a lower price.  In working with these people, do your best to
encourage them to look to the future and be prepared.  They will see the day
when they will be as obsolete as were those who used to manually pick
cotton.
On Tue, Jun 10, 2008 at 6:24 PM, Pieter Sijbrandij 
wrote:
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12) From: Joseph Robertson
I would have to have a special stash for myself especially if I owned the
plantation or orchard.
JoeR
On Thu, Jun 12, 2008 at 9:04 AM, Coffee Willard 
wrote:
<Snip>
-- 
Ambassador for Specialty Coffee and pallet reform.
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13) From: Seth Grandeau
Pieter,
I had been saving this thread for when I had time to read it and I wanted to
say thank you.  Great write up on your experiences.  I worked in Brazil for
a year and I can vouch for the thermos of syrupy sweet coffee.
I'll even share a story (and poke fun at myself in the process).  One office
we were in had coffee "dispensors" on every floor.  It was a dispensor of
instant coffee (or hot chocolate or capucinno) along with a tap for hot
water and little cups.  Meanwhile, the exeuctives got "coffee service" which
was nicely brewed coffee in a silver urn and porcelin cups.  I kept hinting
to my executive sponsor about how much I loved Brazilian coffee and FINALLY
he put me on the "list" to get coffee service, 3 times a day.  I savored
every cup, and made sure my friends who drank the instant stuff saw me get
coffee service.  Well, one day I'm walking down the hall and what do I see?
The coffee server filing her urn with...you guessed it, instant coffee and
hot water.  The same stuff everyone else drank.  I completely fell for it.
:)
My how times have changed.
Tudo bem!
-Seth
On 6/12/08, Paul LaGorce  wrote:
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14) From: Michael Mccandless
Great story, but didn't need the extra 14 pages of text.
McSparky
On Sun, Jun 22, 2008 at 4:31 PM, Seth Grandeau  wrote:
<Snip>
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15) From: Paul Helbert
Joy is the unbeatable taste! I like that!
And yes, we eat cracked eggs and winged chickens while selling only the best.
-- 
Paul Helbert
Prepackaged, roasted & ground coffee,,,
Some of the worst ideas since sliced bread.
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